President Benigno Aquino III formally inaugurated today the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway by gracing the official opening of the highway's Tarlac City-Gerona-Paniqui section.
"I can’t really help but dwell on what the future has in store for us here in Central and Northern Luzon where everything becomes that much more accessible, not just to tourism--and we're targeting about five million tourists this year from the three million baseline," Aquino said during the placing of the ceremonial plaque on the expressway. "Areas like the Hundred Islands suddenly become that much more accessible. Baguio and the surrounding areas in the Cordillera Autonomous Region suddenly seem like but a short trip away."
According to Aquino, with the opening of the Tarlac City-Gerona-Paniqui section, travel time to Gerona will now only take 20 minutes instead of one hour, while the distance to Paniqui can be taken in 30 minutes instead of an hour and 10 minutes, "and that's without traffic."
The President added that once the first section of the TPLEX is opened between Tarlac City and Rosales, Pangasinan, in 2014, travel time will be reduced from two hours to 30 minutes. And once the entire stretch of the TPLEX is finished all the way to Rosario, La Union, the current travel time of three and a half hours using the Manila North Road will supposedly be cut down to only one hour, "benefiting the roughly 20,000 travelers that it will service every day."
Aquino also shared that other infrastructure projects are lined up after the TPLEX's opening, like the repair and widening of the Manila North Road, particularly the section between Paniqui and Moncada in Tarlac, and the construction of more farm-to-market roads "to allow farmers to transport and sell their produce in markets faster."
"When I step down in 2016, when I return to the life of an ordinary civilian, I look forward to driving on the TPLEX," Aquino said in his closing remarks. "Tulad sa isang sikat na kanta, magdra-drive ako--bitbit ang kompiyansa na talagang tumutungo na tayo sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap."
Photo from the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines' Facebook page